A few months back we were approached by Jameson Whiskey to collaborate on a small project. It was an interesting proposal - they were looking to create a specially crafted tumbler to go with their Select Reserve. We don't often do commercial projects of this nature, but every so often an opportunity like this presents an interesting step into new fields with an exciting new team.
The idea was to create the ultimate vessel for drinking their Select Reserve, a whiskey quite unlike others as, among other things, it is matured in charred oak barrels.
What might at first sound like an odd material choice for a whiskey tumbler in fact has profound logic behind it: wood is porous so must be sealed in order to retain liquid. Charring the oak seals the interior while allowing for a wonderfully raw and tactile vessel. Taking this fabulous material as our starting point, we went in search of Irish Oak and (through our friend Neil Willis) sourced a tree that had fallen earlier this year. Neil harvested it while it was still fresh and processed it into workable sections of timber. From Wicklow, the processed oak was then brought to Meath where it was handed over to Joe Laird, one of Ireland's top wood turners. While still fresh, Joe then partially turned the wood into hollow cylinders. Once dried and stable, Joe turned the oak further and the final shape emerged. While still on the lathe, the interior of the tumblers was flamed until it started to char. This process was played out slowly with a mix of heating and cooling. Once complete, the tumbler was cleaned externally, burnished (polished) internally and stamped.
Above are a few images of the process - look out for a film in our next installment.